Friday the 13th Was a Bad Day for Me 1/3/2012
My cousin Tom had Lady first. He is an enthusiastic hunter and wanted a Golden
Retriever for his pheasant hunting. Lady was the result. She proved an unwilling
hunter and her barking in the city was causing Tom grief. It was the Happy
Hunting Grounds or find another home for Lady. Since Dad and I had been the
repository for many "problem" dogs over the years, taking her in wasn't a
I think she was still under a year old when she
came to us. Naturally, there were adjustments to be made, mostly by my father
and her. He liked to leave his overshoes that he fed cattle in outside. Lady
liked to chew on things. This resulted in a pissed off farmer. She also liked
sprinkler hoses and various other important things, like a liner in a motorcycle
helmet. She adjusted by learning what was important and found other things to
gnaw on, such as large sticks, and bones. Her favorite thing was to have her
belly rubbed. I used to say I had a good looking blonde at home that was
waiting for me to rub her nipples. We also discovered that she couldn't stand
to be chained - she was literally dying on the end of the chain. She ate little
and her whole personality changed to a beaten, mopey state. I think she would
have died if kept chained.
She also discovered traveling. Lady loved to
follow Dad to the field. She'd chase rabbits, scents and whatever until she was
hot, then she would plop down into a muddy hole somewhere. She'd get tired and
want to ride the tractor. Dad wasn't very wild about that idea - he liked
legroom and he gave her his water, which usually dirtied it up. So, she figured
out laying down in front of the tractor would stop him. One day when I got
home, Dad told me in a broken voice that he had run over Lady. He had called
her bluff. She seemed ok and her rear legs were stiff for a while. She always
hid pain well, unless you touched what was hurting her.
She was just particular. Hunting was something
she didn't care for when it involved humans and guns. She did fine on her own,
but she was afraid of guns and was more concerned with being petted when
hunting. If you needed a dog to pet while you were hunting, she was there to
make sure your needs were met. Otherwise, no dice. She also liked to take a dip
in the stock tank just to cool off on a hot day. In her later years, I bought a
blowup kiddie pool so she could cool down, but her habit of chewing things took
over and the pool was destroyed. You couldn't keep a collar on her. One day,
she wouldn't have it on, and if you were lucky, it turned up somewhere. She was
a fearsome watchdog, if it was smaller than her or didn't pet her. She would
bark and raise bloody murder at a steer if something substantial, like a pickup,
was between them.
We bought a new recliner and set the old one on
the front porch. That was when she was living, man, she had her own chair. She
loved it. She also chewed it up. I'd buy her some dog pillows, but they'd end
up ripped to shreds as well.
Then my father died. I was on a trip. We
figured Dad passed in his chair when asleep on a Thursday. It was Sunday before
he was found. During this time, Lady hadn't been fed. My neighbor saw her at
his shop during a rainstorm, bedraggled and wet. She wouldn't come to him. I
got home Monday evening, and she showed up, a bit thinner but her personality
was far different. She became very dependent. She would whine if she felt not
enough attention had been given to her. At first, I let it go, but as it went
on, it became obvious that she was better and it was just a ploy. One evening
during a thunderstorm, she was scared, so I let her in the house. This just
didn't happen very often. She immediately jumped into the recliner Dad passed
in, and she caught his scent. The whimpers and whines were enough to break my
Lady was getting older. Winters were affecting
her. So, I decided to buy a doghouse - we had never had one before - all our
dogs got along fine without them, but my girl NEEDED one. She loved it. I put
an old blanket in it for her. Then she would drag it out to lay on in the sun.
When it snowed and covered it up, she would be huddled in her doghouse,
freezing. I would try to keep the thing in, but it was no use. I finally
solved that dilemma by buying cedar chips.
During this time, I discovered a tumor growing
under one of her nipples. I took her into the vet, who put her under and
removed it. It wasn't malignant, but I found out this was common and that it
was likely there would be more. I also discovered she didn't like riding to
town - she knew what waited for her at the end of the trip. She would shiver
and shake when it hit her that she was probably on the way to the vet. She
hated it. Lady would hide under the chairs in the waiting room, tail tucked
between her legs.
Then Babs (short for Babalicious, definitely not
Barbara Streisand) showed up. She was a medium sized mix of some sort, black
with white toes and a splash on her chest. She is shaped somewhat like a
Newfoundland, but much smaller. She had been beaten, and didn't trust me. It
didn't keep her from snarfing all of Lady's food, however. I spent a lot of
time with dog treats winning her over. To this day, I'm about the only one that
can pet her. My sister Kathleen can, but it has taken her years. Lady had a
They would travel all over, hunting creatures
smaller than them. Cottontails, jackrabbits and chunks of cattle carcasses
would find their way into the yard. One day it was a baby skunk. It wasn't
hurt, but they had just about played it to death. I put it out of its misery.
Lady was the dominant dog. She always ate first from the dog dish. The dog
dish was an old hibachi grill that Lady couldn't carry off. She didn't care to
chew on cast iron, I guess. Lady also developed another tumor.
This trip to the vet wasn't as fun, not that the
others in the past were. This would probably be the last time she could be put
under, as she was getting too old. She made it through the operation ok, but
this time her stitches got infected. So, another trip to the vet, shaking and
whining and hurting. She finally healed, but not without trauma.
Lady and Babs were all over the local
countryside. I heard of them being eight miles away once. They never hurt
anything, but they were gone for several days at a time. Lady also got very
thin when she "ran" a lot. What I didn't realize was Lady was going blind, and
the trips were longer because she couldn't see at night. I had noticed she was
going deaf, but didn't figure out her blindness until after one long trip, I
looked her over. I could see the cataracts in her eyes.
I didn't have time to mess with her, but I did
put a collar I'd saved on her. It had an old dog tag. I was thinking that she
would stay since she couldn't see, but I was wrong. The very next day, I
couldn't find her or get her to come, and I drove around calling for her. It
didn't help that it was snowing heavily. In my off hours from the job, I'd
drive around calling and looking for the next two days. No one had seen her,
and there was no trace. I figured she was coyote bait.
But I was wrong. About ten or eleven days
later, I got a call from the vet. Some neighbors over six miles away had called
in the number from the dog tag - they had found a dog and wondered whose it was.
Was it mine? It was a female golden retriever, blind and starving. I went to
pick her up, and sure enough, it was her. She remembered me. The neighbors had
seen her acting crazy in their pasture. She was spinning in circles. They
thought she was mad and planned to shoot her, until they got close and realized
she was blind and starving. They offered to keep her if I thought she would be
too much, but I kept her. I brought her home and chained her. She wasn't happy
about it, but she was just gonna have to be chained until I got a pen built.
Luckily, I had been considering it before she took off, and had some materials
lined up. I put up a pen for her, and she began to thrive again.
It was odd how the tables changed - Babs became
the dominant dog after Lady's blindness. I had to really secure the gate to the
pen, because Babs would break in, eat all of Lady's food, and kick her out of
the doghouse. Babs had her own food and doghouse, but that didn't matter.
So, life went on. Lady was probably over
fourteen years or so at the time. We all lost track. She may have been fifteen
years old, we just don't know. She loved digging holes, and chewing bones and
sticks. She would bury doggy treats. She dug holes with her nose rather than
her paws. I always wondered if she remembered where she put her treats. But,
there was a dark side. Her poor tummy erupted with little knots of tumors. The
vet said maybe he could remove one of them with a local, but not all four or
five of them at once. He recommended just letting it go until it got too bad
for her. It was to be the twilight of Lady's life. She went for about a year
and a half with the tumors.
But, one day, I noticed one of them had really
taken off. It got to fist size in a matter of weeks. Then it got bigger
faster. I knew I had to make a decision to put her out of her misery, but she
didn't seem miserable. The tumor was swinging under her like an udder, but Lady
was sharp and still responded to me the same as always. So I put it off. I
didn't want to drive her to town. I thought that would be cruel to her, to haul
her to town scaring her and then having her killed. I didn't want that. I
didn't want to shoot her, either. It was suggested that I have the local vet
give me the shot to put her under, or have him come out to give her the shot.
Meanwhile, the other tumors began to grow. Lady was getting thin, too. The
things were sucking her down.
Thursday the 12th, I noticed she hadn't eaten
much of her food, and she was just laying without responding to me much. She
obviously knew I was there and was petting her, but she didn't get up. So, I
knew the time had come. The next day, Friday the 13th, I called the vet. He
was going to be gone until the middle of next week. His receptionist
recommended a vet in Dodge that did house calls. I called her, but she didn't
come out of the Dodge City area, and was out of solution anyway. I thought I'd
better check on her - I started calling when I woke up. Lady was breathing hard
and deep, her eyes were sunken and matted, and her mouth was coated. Her head
would come up, and then lay down. There was no response when I touched her.
She was dying and in pain. My girl was suffering badly.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I came
in the house, loaded up a pistol, and went back outside to shoot my dog. I
petted her, telling her I would end her pain, and that I was sorry. I stood
back, and aimed at her head. She picked her head up, so I waited. It was just a
reflex action. She settled down, and I aimed carefully. I pulled the trigger;
she twitched once and was still.
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